If you're in Italy and wondering what to shop for in Florence, you'll be excited to learn that there are many lovely local stores and good bargains in Florence's shops and marketplaces. Tuscany is a rich region that blends tradition with modernity. Because of this, you can find a variety of locally-sourced and unique products.
From food to clothing, here are Tuscany's most typical products to keep an eye out for, as well as tips for spotting local, authentic stores.
If you go and visit San Lorenzo or the ‘Mercato centrale’ (central market), Florence’s biggest market, you’ll be able to find plenty of stands selling leather goods, souvenirs, jewelry and more. Behind the stands, you can also find some leather goods shops. You might want to check if the item you're purchasing is real or faux leather. However, most products at the market are fairly similar, so you get to enjoy the shopping experience.
If you’re on a budget, for instance, it’s worth trying to bargain and bring the price of the items you want to buy down, as sellers are open to this option. And if you’re feeling chatty, this might also be a good opportunity to get to know some locals – either the sellers or other people you meet at the market – and ask for recommendations.
When it comes to perfumes, Italians tend to go for big brand names. However, you can find plenty of local stores in Florence that offer personalized perfumes with Tuscan scents. The ‘Acqua della regina’, made by Catherine de’ Medici in the 16th century, is at Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, an old-fashioned store worth visiting.
If you like candles, you can try Casa Migone’s typical Chianti fragrances such as ‘Vino Nero’ or Maison Bereto’s olive oil and fresh grass candle ‘Belvedere’, or you can try ‘Oro Nero’, an ambiance perfume by Teatro Fragranze Uniche. If you’re more into marine tones, you can try the fresh breeze Acqua dell’Elba. Wondering what to shop for in Florence as a gift for those you left at home? This might be the perfect option.
Ahh, wine, wine… that’s all travelers want to try, isn’t it? Well, in Florence’s city centre, you’ll be able to find wine in plenty of places – at the supermarket, at wineries, wine shops, and more. However, if you want to make sure you're experiencing the best, locally-sourced wine, you might want to take a trip to the vineyards in the Chianti or Val'D'Orcia area. After a good wine tasting, you can purchase wine from the skilled local producer.
Find out more about Chianti and Val D'Orcia in this article: Wine Tours Near Florence
Cured Meats and Cheese
A delicious Florentine board is the perfect thing to get if you're wondering what to shop for in Florence. A typical Florentine board includes Tuscan bread, cured meats, and cheese. You can either enjoy them in a sandwich or on their own. You can, of course, bring back one of these products, but it might not be very practical due to the smell and heat in the summer. Some of the most well-known cured meats are:
Prosciutto (raw ham) – this is the pig’s thigh and buttock, and it is seasoned with black pepper and cured for at least 12 months after having been ‘massaged’ with a mixture of pepper, vinegar and garlic for a month, and finally salted.
Salame toscano (salami) – this is made from lean meat, which is taken from the Cinta senese pig and added to cubed fat; it is seasoned with salt, ground pepper, peppercorns and crushed garlic, then placed in sausage skins and tied with kitchen twine.
Finocchiona or Sbriciolona - this is tasty salami whose name comes from the fennel seeds that are added to the meat.
Capocollo - the neck of the pig. It's seasoned by hand with salt, pepper, red pepper and fennel seeds, rolled up, and left to mature in the cellar for at least 5 months.
Other kinds include lardo, rigatino, guanciale, lombo and more.
Pecorino cheese – this is a hard cheese produced with sheep’s milk; in Tuscany, it’s typical of Pienza, though it can be found anywhere in Italy.
Other kinds of Tuscan cheese include the aged Brusco ricotta from Pistoia, Pecorino cheese from Garfagnana and Guttus, Gorgonzola cheese from Grosseto.
©Photo Credits: Leather jackets (Photo by Robbie Noble); Lavander (Photo by Gemma Evans); Toast (Photo by Matthieu Joannon); Salami (Photo by Edi Libedinsky); Cheese (Photo by Alexander Maasch)